What are the types of CRM?

Published on November 30, 2022
4 minute read
<a href='https://www.lawmatics.com/blog/author/patrick/'>Patrick Grieve</a>
Written by Patrick Grieve

Law school didn’t necessarily prepare you to run a business. If you operate a law firm, you might feel like you’re drowning in marketing jargon and business acronyms and initialisms. One increasingly common industry term is CRM or legal CRM. Here’s everything you need to know about what it means and what it does.

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM platform is software designed for businesses to organize, track, and analyze data related to their customers: communications, notes, documents, and more. It covers the entire client lifecycle, from marketing and referral sources to soliciting reviews after a service is performed. By consolidating communications, records, and data into one central hub, businesses get both a birds-eye view of their operations and granular details necessary for day-to-day functions. Simply put, a CRM saves time, spares headaches, and impresses customers.

If any specific functions of a CRM seem complicated or like a lot of work, just remember that automation is your friend. A quality CRM comes with tools like automations so that your firm can get more done while doing less work.

What are the main types of CRM?

Broadly speaking, there are 4 types of CRM systems on the market: analytical CRM, collaborative CRM, operational CRM, and strategic CRM.

1Analytical CRM

Analytical CRMs focus on using customer data to inform strategic decisions. This may have an emphasis on marketing, such as what ad campaigns drive the most engagement and convert the most prospects into customers. An analytical CRM provides insight into your customers’ behavioral trends, and in doing so identifies current strengths and opportunities. Analytics create a high-level overview necessary for businesses to be responsive to the needs of their customers. Think of an analytical CRM as a way of listening to your customers, only you’re listening to their actions instead of their words. For example, a personal injury firm could use an analytical CRM to optimize its client intake process with a deeper understanding of what causes a prospect to hire their firm.

The benefits of an analytical CRM system are in increased business efficiency. Are your current ad campaigns providing enough return on investment? Is there less demand for one of your services than you previously thought? By diving into the insights of an analytical CRM, you can target leads and prospects with segmented campaigns, increase your ROI, optimize your investments, and create customer journeys that will leave your customers satisfied.

2Collaborative CRM

A collaborative CRM is a tool for internal communications and collaboration. This is most useful if a customer will have contact with several touch points within your business. By keeping up-to-date customer data in one system, businesses can impress more of their customers with a consistent and personalized approach. The data tracked in a collaborative CRM allows your support team to see that they’re not on a call with Client #24601, but with Sandy from Palm Beach who called the billing department last week regarding a recent development in her case. Although a customer may not have a direct interaction with a collaborative CRM system, their customer experience will be shaped by the CRM’s ability to create seamless interactions across all departments. For example, a larger law firm might have a client with multiple matters spanning different practice areas. A collaborative CRM captures and presents a unified story of that client’s relationship with the entire firm. 

The benefits of a collaborative CRM lie in seamless experiences for both your customers and your staff. Improve real-time communication between silos, and identify opportunities to create a more robust and consistent customer experience.

3Operational CRM

An operational CRM is most concerned with facilitating business operations that grow customer relationships. Whereas an analytical CRM is about ‘seeing’ and a collaborative CRM is about ‘sharing,’ an operational CRM is about ‘doing.’ These typically feature tools like email campaigns, workflow pipelines, and automations for marketing and sales. Operational CRMs often power customer interactions like self-service appointment booking or automatic follow-up emails. A law firm that handles high volumes of consultations might prefer the task-oriented features of an operational CRM.

The benefits of an operational CRM come in more personalized experiences for your customers. Automations can personalize emails and other communications with names and relevant information, without your staff needing to do extra work. In fact, your staff will save time because an operational CRM will execute manual, repetitive administrative tasks such as client intake, conflict checking, consultation scheduling, and more. Your staff can instead focus their energies on other aspects of growing the business and delivering quality service to your customers.

4Strategic CRM

A strategic CRM specializes in long term customer relationships. While an analytical CRM focuses on general trend insights, a strategic CRM provides feedback on ongoing relationships. Some common features of a strategic CRM may also be found in collaborative CRMs, like data on previous interactions with a particular customer. If your law firm succeeds because of repeat clients, a strategic CRM tells you why a client keeps coming back.

The benefits of a strategic CRM, like with analytical CRMs, are in its ability to form the foundation of data-driven marketing and operations strategies. As an overview of the customer’s journey through a long term relationship, a strategic CRM offers insights on areas like marketing, sales, and customer service.

What CRM is right for me?

The answer depends on the needs of your law firm. Are you looking for a tool that helps customer acquisition? Do you need help creating a marketing strategy? Want to make sharing information easier within your organization? Do you need industry-specific features, like conflict-checking for legal matters?

One thing to note: some CRM systems combine features from multiple types of CRM. The only way to know for sure if a CRM is right for you is to try it. If you’re a law firm in search of an analytical, collaborative, or operational CRM, get a demo of Lawmatics today. Our all-in-one CRM for law firms can elevate your firm’s efficiency, organization, and customer service. Lawmatics is the CRM you need it to be.

Patrick Grieve

Patrick is the Content Marketing Specialist at Lawmatics. When he’s not writing (or reading) voraciously, you can probably find him in the stands of the nearest baseball or soccer game.
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